Here’s the break down on sugar. Because, frankly, we all love it. There’s always a little “sweet tooth” that springs up, and who doesn’t like to indulge in something dessert-like? Regardless of your childhood, or the current lifestyle you live, it is important to KNOW THE FOOD YOU EAT. Sugar is one of those ingredients that sneaks it’s way into almost all processed foods.
Sugar, in all forms, is a simple carbohydrate composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. There are 3 main structures of sugar, Monosaccharides, which are simple sugars, Disaccharides, this is a result of two simple sugars combining to create sucrose, lactose, and maltose. Last is Polysaccharides which are complex carbohydrates and result from several simple sugars combining.
Simple sugars are the most basic form of sugar. When you consume a food containing simple sugar, or a combination of simple sugars such as sucrose, your body must first break them down into basic components – glucose and fructose.
Knowing the difference between those guys, glucose and fructose, will be a great asset in understanding what sugar is doing inside your body. How the body metabolizes the sugar in fruit and whole grains differs from how it metabolizes refined sugars, like high fructose corn syrup.
The body breaks down refined sugar rapidly, causing insulin and blood sugar levels to surge. The fiber in fruit slows down metabolism, as fruit in the gut expands to make you feel full.
While fructose is naturally occurring in foods, the body uses this sugar in a very different way than glucose.
Fructose– metabolized entirely by the liver, contributes to toxic overload. It is converted into glycerol, the main component of triglycerides and promotes weight retention and also inhibits the release of leptin, a key hormones that controls appetite and satiation. Meaning, you could essentially never feel full no matter how many fructose – containing calories you eat.
Glucose– 80 % gets used by the cells in your body leaving only 20% stored for later use. It stimulates the hormones leptin and insulin to signal the brain when you are full, and most is absorbed by the intestines, leaving only a small percentage to be processed by the liver.
When fructose is consumed in moderation, and in the natural form of fruits and vegetables, most people can break it down easily and it does not cause a build up of toxins and fat storage.
However, because it is so abundant in processed foods and drinks, this creates an unbalanced ratio in the average diet. Many sweeteners are chemically altered to contain concentrated amounts of fructose. There is also the illusion that because fructose occurs naturally it is okay to eat. On the contrary, and according to endless studies, it does nothing good within the body.
A world-wide study shows a direct connection between the over-use of sugar and the increase in disease such as type 2 diabetes. Another study done with over 60,000 adults suggests that when drinking just 2 sweetened beverages per day you could increase the risk for stroke by 22%. The health concerns associated with fructose are huge, and growing. It is considered to be one of the leading causes for obesity, and contributes significantly to risks of heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, high blood pressure, mood disorders, and metabolic syndrome, to name a few.
The amount of sugar that is already in your blood will determine how the body uses the sugar you eat. If you already have a lot of sugar in your system, then what you ingest next, whether it be fruit or processed junk food, will form either fat or glycogen, the storage form of glucose. Filling the body with fructose causes further forms of sugar (like glucose) to lose any potential value because we have already saturated our blood stream with simple carbohydrates.
So, the question is, just how much sugar is too much?
The World Health Organization guidelines in 2015 define too much sugar as more than 10% of an individual’s total daily calorie intake. Meaning, for the average person consuming 2,000 calories a day, 10% of the total calories would mean 50 grams of sugar, or 12.5 teaspoons.
In an article by Dr. Mercola, he recommends keeping your total fructose consumption below 25 grams per day.
Now, without getting caught up in calorie counting and moderating grams, let’s at least agree to be CONSCIOUS of the sugars we consume. This means really considering if that can of soda is going to bring your body life and vitality or, be a moment of sweet that could trigger a surge of high blood pressure later on.
It’s time to get in -tune with the body and listen to what it likes and dislikes.
When we lessen the foods, drinks, and toxic environments that we are exposed to, it allows us to be more receptive to what we actually need and want. We can then, eliminate cravings for things (like sweets) that are only doing harm to our body.
Today’s Effort – Say Goodbye to Fructose
Try eating foods that contain little to no fructose. Start today and choose, whole, unprocessed foods for your meals.
Meat (high quality, grass-fed)
Fruit (in moderation)
Whole grains (rice, oats, quinoa, millet)
Dairy (in moderation)
Nuts and seeds
Avoid foods containing high amounts of fructose such as:
Processed/ and or packaged foods
Soda and fruit juice
Bread and pasta (unless sprouted grain, and no added sugar)
Crackers (unless pure seed) and cookies
Candy (of any kind)
Dairy sweetened in any way
All artificial sweeteners
Eating a clean diet, rich in whole foods, is the best way to maintain a healthy weight and lower risk of disease as we age. It’s not really rocket science. The simple truth is that our bodies need balance. When you over do it on any food it’s going to cause problems. The fact that sugar has become so common in the standard american diet is something to realize, so that you can make the choice whether or not to take part in becoming another statistic.
Make the choice today, to educate , and become aware of what you eat. Learn to love the natural sugar present in most foods and let your taste buds be re-awakened to the flavors of life!
Be proud of yourself!
Join us every Sunday for the next edition of Starting Your Week Strong.
Learn about a tasty treat that has super powers in last weeks’ blog Super Food
Are you curious about how to harmonize your health goals and fit wellness into your busy schedule? Contact me today for more information about Today’s Effort Health Coaching.
Sarah Wilson – I Quit Sugar, https://iquitsugar.com/faqs/what-is-i-quit-sugar-all-about/
Dr. Mercola – Confirmed—Fructose Can Increase Your Hunger and Lead to Overeating, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/01/14/fructose-spurs-overeating.aspx
Institute for Integrative Nutrition
The information shared in this article is not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any form of illness or disease. The opinions are the author’s alone and are not to be used as a guide to follow for any health related conditions, but rather a sharing of perspective.
Today’s Effort, and it’s authors, take no responsibility for the choices of individuals and encourages you to work alongside a trusted physician and or doctor with any health related issues.